Tips, Tricks & Trends

Electric Crate Motors Allow Anybody to Swap Out a Combustion Engine

There is a growing desire for the electrification of the automotive industry. That move has taken greater intensity since Tesla proved that electric cars can be possible for the masses and not be ugly. But, that interest in electric cars also bleeds through to the supporting industry, such as repair, restoration, and custom shops. They also have customers that want to change to electric power. Now, there’s a company making swap out conversion kits, the equivalent of electric crate motors.

A red Fiat 124 Spider is parked in the middle of the road.
This 1982 Fiat 124 Spieder was the center of an Electric GT electric crate motor swap | Electric GT

Crate engines versus electric crate motors

For decades, repair, restoration, and custom shops have been able to dial up Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler and order up crate engines. So, if a customer needed an engine replacement, the shop could order it and have it delivered traditionally in a crate, or on a palette. Hence, the term crate engine. 

Electric car shops, however, have a more complex problem. That industry is in its infancy. So, crate options have not really made the big news yet. Also, the demand has not been there yet to create crate kits when compared to internal combustion engines. Additionally, the electrification industry parts suppliers are still testing to find out which components are more reliable than others. While there have been a few kits here or there, they still require a lot of trial and error for installation and may have some components that are questionable in reliability.

The driver's front fender shows an Electric GT badge to disclose the cars electric motivation.
The fender badge of a 1982 Fiat 124 Spider that received an Electric GT crate motor swap | Electric GT

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Finally, however, there is a shop in California that is specializing in the electric crate motor kits. Eric Hutchinson, the founder of Electric GT, says, “All we’re trying to do is basically go in as another option to a [V-8] swap,” and, “We want to play in the rules of that game.” His desire is not to be a shop where people bring their cars to be swapped to electrified power. Instead, he wants to provide the electric crate motor kits to shops and mechanics that would, on their own, do the conversion. That would be like the Chevy, Ford, and Dodge example I gave before, except with electric motors. 

Electric accessibility to everyone

To be completely fair, there are other shops offering electric kits as well that are already on the market. But, what makes Electric GT different is that care is taken so that the person with little or no knowledge of how to do a conversion will still be able to complete a project with one of the company’s kits. To that end, Electric GT provided a 120-page manual to a Fiat 124 owner with one of their crate motor kits. Together with a mechanic friend, they did the swap themselves. 

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All of this electrification comes at a price. As mentioned before, the industry is in its infancy. So, getting involved is expensive for both the supplier and the customer. As time goes by and technology advances, the price of the components needed for the crate motors may drop, while things like longevity and range may increase at the same time. 

Quieter and more powerful

Our friends at Road and Track caught up with Mr. Hutchinson. When asked about the electric industry, he had this to say, “I see it as quality of life. At a red light in a silent car, you hear all the noise around you, you realize it’s actually offensive…. And then you have something that’s more powerful, [with] less maintenance.”

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A crate engine has always been a convenient way of swapping internal combustion engine powerplants out. Now, it seems that Electric GT is making headway in being able to provide an electric crate motor alternative. This can only be a good thing since consumers will now have another powerplant choice available to them for their project.